Pharmacist denied woman medication for her miscarriage because he’s a ‘good Catholic male’

PETOSKEY, MICHIGAN — In the latest addition to the debate over how the religious and moral beliefs of merchants should affect their customers, a woman is demanding that a pharmacist be disciplined after he refused to fill a prescription that would have helped her complete a miscarriage.

According to 35-year-old Rachel Peterson, back in July a male pharmacist for the Meijer store chain refused to fill her prescription for the drug misoprostol due to his personal religious views. On top of that, he even refused to send the prescription to another pharmacy because he suspected her of inducing an abortion.

From the Lansing State Journal:

Misoprostol can be used to prevent stomach ulcers and also can be used to induce labor during pregnancy, to aid in the completion of a miscarriage and in the treatment of postpartum hemorrhage. When combined with another drug, it can be used to induce an abortion.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan sent a letter Tuesday on Peterson’s behalf to Meijer, saying what the pharmacist did was discriminatory and violated the state’s public accommodation laws.

As the Friendly Atheist points out, the ACLU of Michigan filed a complaint against the store chain that employs the pharmacist, saying his actions were “discriminatory” and “cruel.”

“Meijer’s practice of allowing its pharmacist to refuse to fill prescriptions and decline to transfer them is discriminatory and violates Michigan’s public accommodations laws,” the complaint read. “The ACLU of Michigan is demanding Meijer implement a policy that ensures all pharmacy customers receive their medication without undue delay regardless of the personal beliefs of its pharmacists.”

According to the ACLU’s account, the pharmacist, Richard Kalkman, told Peterson that he wouldn’t fill her prescription because he’s a “good Catholic male.” When she argued that OB/GYN said her fetus wasn’t viable, he accused her of lying.

“When you’re at one of the lowest moments of your life,  you don’t expect this sort of demeaning treatment,” Peterson told the ACLU.

“A pharmacy should not be able to deny patients medication prescribed by their doctors based on the personal beliefs of a particular employee.”

Update, 10/19/2018: The pharmacist who denied Rachel Peterson her medication has been fired. Read the updated story here.

Featured image via Flickr

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